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(Very Rough) Project Outline

2 min read

Question: Does our preservation of these books (and our subsequent granting of immortality to those early readers/marginalia writers) necessarily exclude the possibility for us to join that immortal community of readers? If we preserve them, we can’t really read them. If we read them, we can’t really preserve them… How might we join that immortal community? What is the life span of a book? Are we supposed to preserve it?

Tentative Argument: Compiling marginalia might allow us to join that community-- abstracting marginalia from the page… But does that rob the marginalia of some of its meaning? Its placement is important, I think. And over time, we might accumulate too much marginalia to read. Different people’s marginalia will obscure each other’s writing until it just all looks like smudges on the side of the page. But marginalia has meaning for THAT COPY. It says something about the specific object in which it was found. Marginalia is not necessarily about the text, but it about the book. You can’t pin something into a webpage. BUT you can annotate with a link outwards to something else...

Object of Study/Scope: Marginalia recorded in END metadata, marginalia collected by me-- The History of Laura and the Handsome Hermit… Can I find a copy with marginalia?

Method: Book history/materiality of texts, literary history, literary theory, close reading of marginalia? Is that possible?

Theoretical Framework: Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books by H.J. Jackson, Used Books: Marking Readers in Renaissance England by William Sherman

Stakes: The operational practices of special collections/rare books libraries, the lifespan of books